Meet the WiRE Program Team

Retha Wiesner (program Director)

Hi there! I am the founder and program director of the WiRE Program. I have the privilege of leading the WiRE program. I am also responsible for leading the program, engaging with participants through facilitation and mentoring and executing the research component of the WiRE Program. I have been lucky enough to marry my three main career passions: Entrepreneurial Behaviour, Research and Teaching.  I'm a Professor in Management and Entrepreneurial Behaviour and am Research Program Leader of one of the key programs in the Institute for Resilient Regions at the University of Southern Queensland.  

I teach and research entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity; managing behaviour in organisations; and small business performance.  My core professional passion is helping women to empower themselves through entrepreneurial behaviour and innovation.  I have extensive experience in leading large entrepreneurship capacity building projects and project teams, both in the national and international arena. For example, in the last five years I have led research and capacity-building projects of over $5m (with significant industry engagement) in the entrepreneurship and small business domain.

I have also interviewed hundreds of women entrepreneurs who shared not only their success stories but also failures with me. A key theme from all these interviews is their passion for what they do and how they managed to turn this passion into profit.  I see myself as an "initiator" and entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial behaviours are core to the person I am. I love writing and have published over 80 research articles and co-authored 10 books on management and behaviour in organisations. I love working with enquiring minds and individuals who have a passion for self growth. I am currently supervising several doctoral students within the small business and entrepreneurship arena.   I am looking forward to work with you in this program and learn from you all!

Retha Wiesner of The WiRE Program

Tara Jacobsen-Neven

Tara Jacobsen-Neven is a facilitator in the WiRE Program. She is an experienced entrepreneur, business strategist, facilitator, and collective leadership specialist. Tara has over 20 years experience in applying strategy to corporate learning and development, education, business growth and organisational development.  An expert in human and social capital development, Tara uses new insights into providing a strategic approach to building and executing social capital solutions to build more productive, resilient and change agile teams, organisations and communities. Tara’s key fundamental philosophy is that we build human capital value in organisations by enhancing the way we structure our organisations and how we develop our people in order to best operate in the ‘wisdom age’. She has been successful in connecting people and organisations to collaborate to build sustainable and embedded learning which supports organisation and people skill development.  She has a number of years experience as keynote speaker and master of ceremonies at a number of Australian industry conferences on subjects such as leadership, culture development, social and human capital value. She also sits on a number of boards and committees in various roles and volunteers for a number of community groups. Tara contributes frequently to a range of local and state publications and is a regular writer for the international My Entrepreneur e-magazine. She is currently writing a book on the invisible threads that connect people and how to use this for personal and professional development to enhance social capital value.  Tara holds a number of postgraduate and undergraduate degrees in business including a Master of Business Administration.

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Shalene Werth

Shalene is a senior lecturer in the School of Management and Enterprise at USQ. Her research and capacity building activities have focused upon the way that women with unique challenges interact with their environment in order to maintain a productive working life. These women are motivated by sometimes unhelpful workplaces where even minor accommodations for their disability/personal circumstances are not made available to them. Shalene’s PhD study examined the influence of paid work environments on women with chronic illness, she has subsequently co-edited a book “Work and Identity” which, in part, focuses on identifying the key factors which make employment so difficult for individuals with chronic illness or conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Her ongoing research is exploring the ways that these women preserve their resilience, we know that many choose innovative ways of ensuring their financial resilience through entrepreneurship.

Jim Cavaye

Jim is Professor and Program Director in Regional Community Development at USQ and he has over 35 years experience working with rural, regional and remote communities in Queensland, across Australia and internationally. His work in the Institute of Resilient Regions focuses on improving the social and economic vitality of regional communities and he is known nationally and internationally for his work on rural community development, community engagement, community participation, economic transition in communities and community planning. Jim contributes to the comprehensive community engagement and lasting benefits for not just participants but also for communities as well.    


Geoff Woolcock  

Geoff is a Senior Research Fellow in the Institute for Resilient Regions. He plays a leading role in project evaluation and evaluating the impact of the WiRE initiative. He has extensive experience in impact assessment, building social capital, and collaborative place-based community development initiatives


Megan Kuhn 

Megan contributes to the marketing and promotion elements of the WiRE Program and has been a Project Officer for the WiRE Program since its inception. Megan has significant marketing and administrative experience. Megan Kuhn is a rural entrepreneur and the executive support officer for the Queensland Rural Regional and Remote Women’s Network (QRRRWN), where she utilises her passion for providing administration support with particular emphasis on member support, event registration, marketing and communications.  Megan has spent her life living and working in regional and remote communities throughout Queensland and is familiar with the challenges and opportunity that many rural women face.  An extensive history of volunteer work in small communities has cemented Megan’s contribution to community. Megan’s holds a Bachelor of Community Welfare and has an administration background spanning over 18 years. Megan is passionate about connecting women with personal and professional development opportunities which she is able to do through marketing and communication of events and opportunities through the WiRE Program. 


Chad Renando

Chad Renando, has extensive experience in large-group facilitation, developing business networks, startup and entrepreneur mentoring, community development, and change management programs.  Combining practical application with theory, Chad is currently undertaking a PhD focusing on the role of innovation hubs for community resiliency in regional areas. The research and his community management role leverages his experience in managing large-scale change programs in the Queensland energy and resource sectors, his advisory and product development roles in the Impact Academy social enterprise accelerator, board roles for not for profit youth engagement programs, advisory and investor roles in regional startups, committee roles in national hackathon programs, and leadership roles in digital and manufacturing sectors. Chad has a Masters of Applied Social Science (Management), five years’ experience as a certified PMBOK Project Management Professional (PMP), and applies his certifications in individual, coaching and team building instruments to the personal journey of the entrepreneurs.  

Chad Renando of The WiRE Program
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